Plants, microbes, and odorants involved in host plant location by a specialist moth: who's making the message?

Michael S. Wolfin, Sara L. Volo, Ronald R. Chilson, Yuxi Liu, Dong H. Cha, Kerik D. Cox, Gregory M. Loeb, Charles E. Linn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The grape berry moth (GBM), Paralobesia viteana (Clemens) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae), is a specialist pest insect of cultivated grape, Vitis spp. (Vitaceae), in the eastern USA. A blend of volatile compounds has been isolated from plant material that attracts female GBM in the flight tunnel and field. However, the origin of the volatile cue is potentially complicated by the presence of microbes (bacteria and fungi) living on the surface of the plant. Microbial volatile organic compounds can affect insect behavior, and therefore must be considered to fully understand olfaction-mediated behaviors. We report here the chemical and behavioral analysis of the volatile profiles produced from both the sanitized and control shoot treatments. The sanitization treatment removed 96.4% of the surface microbes up to 24 h, covering the duration of the behavioral assays and volatile collections. Overall, the surface microbes did not significantly contribute to the volatile profile of the grape shoots, as all of the peaks in the volatile profile of sanitized shoots were found in the profile of control shoots. In flight tunnel assays, female GBM displayed the same level of upwind oriented flight to sanitized shoots (flew upwind 57.4%, landed 30.9%) as they did to control shoots (flew upwind 57.8%, landed 31.0%), suggesting further that surface microbes did not contribute to the production of the previously identified blend of behaviorally active volatiles for GBM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science

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